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KFC tests chicken nuggets in several North Carolina stores

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Yahoo Finance food reporter Brooke DiPalma details her journey to Louisville, Kentucky, to see how chicken-brand KFC is testing out its new nuggets and next-gen restaurant designs.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- A new item is coming to KFC's menu, the company adding chicken nuggets for the first time. You heard that right. The fast food chain that specializes in fried chicken has never offered this fan favorite before.

Brooke DiPalma got a sneak peek of this. And, Brooke, I know you're fresh off of a trip that you just took down to Louisville to check this out. Tell us about what you learned.

BROOKE DIPALMA: That's right. Well, they're currently testing these chicken nuggets. They'll essentially replace the popcorn chicken that's currently on the menu. And so we packed our bags and went down to see how the more than 80-year-old brand, Kentucky Fried Chicken, is gearing up for the future with this new menu item and its next-gen restaurant design.

Touchdown in Louisville, Kentucky. And you don't even need to leave the airport to see that it's home to the headquarters of KFC. In 1939, founder Colonel Sanders invented the brand's famous secret recipe with 11 herbs and spices. Now it's featured in more than 27,000 restaurants around the world.

Everything you see on a menu near you is developed and tested in this kitchen right behind me. Let's go.

From French fries to the crispy chicken sandwich, and even Louisville native Jack Harlow's meal, the fast food chain uses this innovation kitchen to try and come up with its next big hit. Now it's looking to target Gen Z with its brand-new chicken nuggets that KFC US head chef Chris Scott helped to develop.

CHRIS SCOTT: So many of younger consumers are not interested in eating chicken on the bone. For whatever reason they choose, they don't want it. That's great. Now we actually have an opportunity for them to fall in love with the company all over again.

BROOKE DIPALMA: The 100% white meat nuggets are set to be tested in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 18 with potential to roll out nationwide. But customers are hungry for more than just innovation on the menu. Online ordering, mobile pickup, and drive-thru our top priority. Chief development officer Brian Cahoe met us at the company's next-gen restaurant.

BRIAN CAHOE: Drive-thru, delivery, quick pickup-- so part of the design is functional as well, making sure that we've got technology integrated and all those off-premise channels integrated into our designs.

BROOKE DIPALMA: This transition to next-gen restaurants has already begun and will continue over the next year.

And I also spoke with Brian about the impact of inflation on franchisee owners. He said the team is working to ensure supply chain and that inflation and pricing are offset as the company moves forward. And just to give context of the price changes over the years, in 1957, when the original bucket debuted, the first franchise owners for the brand sold a 14-piece chicken bucket, five rolls, and a pint of gravy for just $3.50. Now today, a 16-piece chicken bucket costs nearly $30, but, of course, varies on location, Seana.

- $3.50.

BROOKE DIPALMA: Can you imagine that?

- That in '57. That's a good way, a good figure there to show inflation over the years. Brooke, great job there. I'm certainly very hungry now after watching you eat those chicken nuggets.

But I know that you were able to make your own chicken bucket, something that I think a lot of us KFC fans would love to do.

BROOKE DIPALMA: Absolutely. Yeah, so it was really interesting. Of course, we go inside the chicken-- first of all, to be allowed inside the KFC chicken was a bit of an honor here. I mean, you could see right there.

It was so intriguing just to see how they basically use a pressure cooker to essentially make the chicken bucket. That's their, you know, claim to fame-- not only the pressure cooker, but also that original recipe-- secret, of course, 11 herbs and spices, a lot more dynamic than what I thought.

Of course, there's an art to the way that they're put in the rack. You can see the pressure. That's what you're seeing there. That shows that they're ready to be let out of the pressure cooker.

And, of course, the final product there tasted, oh, so good.

- I know. I was gonna say my only issue with this is that you didn't come on set with the nuggets.

BROOKE DIPALMA: Next time.

- Next time. Maybe when they do a wider nationwide rollout--

BROOKE DIPALMA: Of course.

- --I'll bring you back to talk about it. Brooke, great job. Thanks so much.

BROOKE DIPALMA: Thank you.